Boxing Day is a national public holiday celebrated yearly on December 26 in all of Australia except in the state of South Australia.
The day after Christmas Day is officially Proclamation Day in South Australia and marks the proclamation of South Australia as a British province in 1836.
No, Boxing Day has nothing to do with two gloved men sparring on a canvas square ringed by ropes and trying to knock each other out.
In Australia, Boxing Day is also the day the peril-fraught Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race begins.
For many, in places where shops open on this public holiday, it is also the start of the post-Christmas bargain shopping season.
Boxing Day is believed to have received its name from an old tradition when employers boxed gifts for their workers on the day after Christmas.
Apparently this custom dates back to the Middle Ages in Europe where giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions was part of the tradition. In the United Kingdom, a December 1663 entry in Samuel Pepys' diary mentions a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas.
Yet another explanation of how Boxing Day got its name refers to the day when, in old England, church collection boxes were opened and the money distributed to the poor.
Australia's national public holidays:
- New Year's Day - January 1
- Australia Day - January 26
- Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday
- Anzac Day - April 25
- Queen's Birthday - second Monday in June except in Western Australia where it is marked in late September or early October
- Labor Day - first Monday in October in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and South Australia. See article for dates and other information in other states and the Northern Territory.
- Christmas Day - December 25
- Boxing Day (Proclamation Day in South Australia) - December 26